He's been all but in for months but on Monday former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will officially announce he is a candidate for president in 2012. Pawlenty aides tell Fox News the campaign roll out will be in the form of a town hall meeting in Des Moines, Iowa. The Hawkeye State plays a crucial role in the selection process as the home of the 'First in the Nation' presidential caucuses and Pawlenty has been pressing the flesh there for months, hoping to raise his name recognition.
Pawlenty will head to Florida on Tuesday where he will headline a Facebook town hall. The Sunshine State is another crucial early primary test and arguably the biggest battleground swing state in the nation.
The next stop on his roll out will be in Washington D.C. on Wednesday where Pawlenty will speak at the CATO Institute. Pawlenty has long touted his "A" rating for budgetary policies from the libertarian think tank. Then he'll make his way to New Hampshire home of the first primary of the 2012 cycle.
Pawlenty has long been seen by some observers as a bit of a long shot for the Republican nomination because of his low name recognition. However, with some big names deciding not to run and the recent difficulties in the Newt Gingrich campaign, insiders are increasingly looking at Pawlenty as one of the key players in the race.
Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.